I’ve always found it interesting how people seem to associate butterflies with death. From internet emails that are passed around regarding butterflies and tombstones, to personal accounts of how butterflies remind people of lost loved ones, butterflies seem to be an integral part of how we view death and dying. Personally, my aunt always told me that seeing a butterfly reminded her of my Uncle Joe, who passed away when I was in high school. Therefore, when I was given the opportunity by Simon and Schuster to review this book, I was immediately interested and intrigued by the plot line.
Luz Avila is a young woman with a busy life in Milwaukee. Orphaned by her mother when she was little, Luz is raised by her grandmother, who she calls Abuela. Abuela tries to persuade Luz to go with her on a trip to her home village in Mexico, where monarch butterflies migrate each year from around the world. Sadly, Aubela dies before Luz can make up her mind about the trip. Feeling depressed due to her inability to detach herself from her day-to-day life enough to make the trip before Abuela’s death, Luz decides to make the trip with Abuela’s ashes, driving from Milwaukee to Mexico. On the way she meets a number of interesting and inspirational women who teach her invaluable lessons about life and also about herself. To add to the adventure of the trip, Luz arrives in San Antonio, TX to find her aunt, but finds her mother instead, whom she has long thought was dead. Now, she must not only deal with the pain of the loss of her Abuela, but the confusion and emotion that comes from meeting her mother face to face for the first time in years. Will Luz be able to get the ashes to Abuela’s village in time for the butterfly migration, or will the sudden shock of finding her mother alive be too much?
One of my favorite thing about this novel were the characters! Luz goes on this amazing journey for her grandmother and it winds up becoming a journey of self-discovery. She finds that she can be a strong, independent, and able-minded person; she is capable of handling herself with ease, confidence, and poise through the most difficult of situations. The women she meets along the journey each go through similar journeys themselves, whether it be finding the difficulty to leaving an abusive lover or simply following what they thought were long-lost dreams. They are inspiring individuals, each with a lesson to teach the reader.
My biggest complaint with the novel was the ending!! The last few chapters just felt rushed. I wish Monroe had given us a little more time to digest the relationship that is introduced between Luz and her mother. The speed and pace at which the relationship grew with just didn’t seem realistic to me. Even after you find out the real reason that Luz’s mother disappeared all those years ago, it doesn’t erase all the years she’s missed of Luz’s life. Besides that one complaint I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It’s obvious that Monroe has excellent writing skills. Her prose is weaved with interspersing beautiful imagery of the landscape that Luz is traveling through as well as the beauty of the butterfly.
Monroe finds a way to incorporate butterfly lore into the story seamlessly as well. Each chapter begins with another fact about either about butterflies in general or about their migration patterns. I found myself becoming engrossed with them, and I’m not ashamed to admit that upon completion of the book I promptly begin doing a bit of research myself.
Filled with rich characters, beautiful imagery, and a gripping storyline, The Butterfly’s Daughter is one book you’re going to want to add to your to-read list.
4 out of 5 Stars